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Beirut-based charter flight start-up to offer VIP services to MENA countries

A Lebanese-based company, Cirrus Middle East, plans to provide non regular chartered VIP services throughout the Middle East and to supply ground handling operations through a joint venture with Universal Weather and Aviation Inc. as of October 15.

Established in April 2004 and member of the German Cirrus Group, Cirrus Middle East is a major provider of executive charter and fixed base operator services in the Middle East and North Africa.

Its main activities include aircraft charter and brokerage, aircraft management, aircraft sales, financial leasing, and maintenance and repair.

A joint venture has been recently established with a major international company, Universal Weather and Aviation Inc., to start up a business aviation ground handling operation at Beirut International Airport (OLBA) in Lebanon.

An independent member of the UV Global Network, an affiliate of the Universal Weather & Aviation Group, the operation will be located at the General Aviation Terminal of OLBA.

The goal of this joint venture is to improve the level of services and support available in OLBA for based and visiting Business aviation customers.

"Strategically, we chose Beirut for its thriving commerce and continued growth. It is an excellent location from which to support our many clients who operate within the region to Beirut, whether for business or pleasure," said Jonathan Howells, the regional director of Universal in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Initially to be known as Universal/Cirrus ME, the joint enterprise will operate as Universal Aviation Beirut and will provide, arrange and coordinate all ground handling operation services 24/7 for all business aircrafts up to the Boeing 747.

The venture will start with a small and experienced team, but "in a fairly short period of time, we hope to be handling a significant slice of the business aviation flights to Beirut," said Abed al-Jaouni, CEO of Cirrus ME.

Starting in October, Cirrus ME will expand to provide VIP services in and out of Beirut to major cities across the Middle East. "We are expecting to become operational and get all our licenses within the next few weeks," said Jaouni, explaining that although the headquarters are in Beirut, there were expansion plans to Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Nadine Azar Ghostine, marketing director at Cirrus ME, said these flights will run a few times a week, and some daily to destinations across the Middle East that have been carefully chosen after some internal research.

"The locations that those flights provide for have been selected according to customers' needs to bind Beirut with important business locations within the area," said Jaouni.

Beirut,09 12 2005
Leila Diab
The Daily Star
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